Monday 23 April 2018

7 Things I Do In The Name Of Self-Care

I’ve written before about the importance of self-care for new mothers (read it here, folks), but I don’t think self-care becomes less important as your baby grows. The truth is, we all need to focus more on looking after ourselves. It is so easy to get swept up in the demands of family life, work commitments and the need to have a social life and end up with very little time to really give to ourselves. I sometimes feel like I am being pulled in all different directions, it’s so hard to feel like you’re winning at anything when there are more demands on your time than you can handle.

Self-care seems to be on-trend lately, but maybe that’s just because I read things mostly aimed at mums. Probably 18-year-olds aren’t talking about self-care, they’re probably just planning their girls holiday to Ibiza or something. But, in my circles, self-care is big. We’re all talking about it but not many of us are actually doing it. I don’t think self-care has to be something big or unmanageable because then it just adds to the list of things I can’t achieve. I would love to use self-care as an excuse to try out a range of spa days, but in reality, I just focus on the small things that make me feel a little more like myself. Here are seven things I do for self-care:

1. Read my book
This is one of my favourite things to do. There’s nothing quite like a bit of escapism to help you deal with the mundane stresses of family life, is there? I love reading. I used to read a lot, but I’ve found it difficult to read since becoming a mother. I always have at least one child in my bed so my reading lamp is strictly decorative because I loathe to wake up a sleeping child. I sometimes read a chapter or two sat on the ground outside my bedroom door before bed, but my favourite thing is to take my book out and read it on the train. Even better, if the friends I’m meeting are running late and I can read a few chapters in a cafe or quiet bar while I wait for them to arrive. That really feels like a break from reality.

2. Go for a run
I am new to running and I am not good at it, but I am trying. My plan is to run so much I forget that I hate to exercise and become amazingly thin and healthy. It has not worked so far but I do not give up easily. Running is wonderful because it helps with a few different areas of self-care. Firstly, it gets me out of the house and into nature. Secondly, it improves my health and gives me a more positive mindset. Thirdly, I get some time to myself away from my ever-so-clingy toddler. And finally, I get to listen to podcasts.

3. See my friends
I spend most of my week with a toddler. She’s ace, but she also covers me in peanut butter, slaps me in the face and occasionally pees on me. Sometimes it is nice to not suffer all of those things. When Ember naps, I work, and so I rarely feel like I get a break. I am busy woman doing busy woman things busily. It’s nice to not be that person for a while. Meeting my friends keeps me sane. It gives me a chance to talk about feminism or politics or old memories. It gives the opportunities to hear about things other than potty training and toddler tantrums and the demands of motherhood. There is nothing more soothing to the soul than meeting up with old friends. They know you, they love you, they accept you, and it’s easy to be yourself around them.

4. Get a babysitter
This is something I’ve discovered relatively recently, but it is really amazing to get a babysitter. When Ebony was little, I used to go out and leave her with Laurie, and he used to go out and leave her with me, but we never really left her and went out together unless it was for something specific. For the past few months, we’ve been taking advantage of my parents’ babysitting services and escaping from family life for a few hours to spend some time just the two of us. I wouldn’t leave Ember overnight yet, so my parents take the kids for the day while Laurie and I go out. When we get back, the kids are bathed and fed and ready for bed. It gives us the chance to go to see movies, or eat nice food or just have conversations without having to be parents. It’s lovely.

5. Go to a movie
I am not afraid to be seen in the cinema alone, so this is one of my ideal self-care dates. If there’s a film I want to see, I go alone. It’s nice spending a few hours by myself doing something for me. And the cinema is wonderful because I don’t have to go and put anyone back to bed during the movie. I can switch my phone off and pretend nobody depends on me. I don’t rush home after either, I pop to the shops and get some cake and read my book. It only takes an afternoon but it feels like I have had a real treat by the end of it. It’s just so nice to not be in charge of anyone for a little while.

6. Pluck my eyebrows
Man, this is a depressing one. I used to pluck my eyebrows all the time. When I was young (oh, young), I plucked them constantly. It was part of my morning ritual (get up, cry, pluck eyebrows, go to work). I never had to do an emergency crisis pluck unless I had lost my tweezers (which, admittedly, did happen relatively often). But now, now things are different. I’m not exaggerating when I say I don’t often look in the mirror during the week. I put mascara on and straighten my hair in the morning, usually in a rush because we’re late for school, and then I don’t usually look at my reflection until the end of the day when I gasp at the horror of my own face. So now something as ordinary as plucking my eyebrows can actually leave me feeling refreshed, depressing as that is to admit.

7. I go to bed on time

This is lame, I know, and I’m hardly the self-care poster girl. But, in reality, I don’t take holidays alone or go on spa days or do anything that costs a lot, it’s the little things that make a big difference to me. And going to bed on time is one of them. I either go to bed on time and wake up feeling human, or I go to bed late and wake up feeling like crap. And whichever of those options I choose can determine my whole day. The chances are I’m going to get woken up in the night by a grumpy toddler, so the earlier I go to bed, the better.

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